Friday, March 26, 2010

Intermission Time

There's one more post coming to wrap up my series on redemption. But first, I need to write about a surprising turn of events here. I've had an unusual number of visitors to my blog lately, and it turns out that most of them have been sent here by Google when they searched for Benjamin's Box. (Welcome to The Journey if you're one of them!) I described the book experience in this post last year.

It's the Easter story, the ultimate story of redemption. It's a book, an activity and a family tradition all rolled into one. I love it. BUT...when we first started talking about Easter this year (at the beginning of Lent), Bethany almost immediately asked if we could NOT do Benjamin's Box this year. Yes, she did. Why? She doesn't like the thorns. See that teeny, tiny little twig there? It has thorns to remind us of the crown the crowd put on Jesus's head. The whole thing really bothers her. Enough that she would rather do without the fun egg hunt and everything. It's gotten me wondering if I need to take my own disclaimer closer to heart.

In my post last year I wrote about the fact that the crucifixion is no G-rated event. What can a young child really conclude about the events of the crucifixion? Anything beyond how terrible it was that the "bad guys" were so mean to Jesus? Is there any point in even talking about it before she is old enough to begin to understand that Jesus went willingly to the cross to take the punishment for our--MY--sin? And how old is that?

I don't have answers to those questions, but I have a daughter who is perhaps more closed to the discussion of the events of Easter than open, all because of some thorns. She loves Jesus. She's just not quite ready to know the nitty gritty of all he's done for her. I'm pretty sure he loves her enough to be OK with that. She has plenty of time to grow into those truths.

Holy week is upon us. May the Lord lavish his grace and mercy on you and your family as you walk with him to the cross. And may you know just how far is far enough to follow this year. One thing is certain, He'll meet you on the other side come Sunday.

Note...the rest of the story:  After I wrote this, Ben and Bethany wanted to have an Easter party for their friends.  About a dozen kids came over for an egg hunt, and in the end, both kids agreed it would be fun to share the Benjamin's Box experience with them.  Everyone including Bethany seemed to enjoy it.  One dad who stayed was amazed by how quiet and attentive the kids were. 

I've had some brilliant comments on this post. They should be a post unto themselves. They are well worth the read. Thanks so much, dear friends, for sharing your thoughts!


Melissa Mae said...

Tracy, thanks for the idea and the warning. I'm now taking a second look at what I'm doing with my kids to see if I should take a step back. I'm impressed by Bethany's ability to take it all seriously and not just make it into a "story" about Jesus but something that really happened to him and something that is hard for her to internalize. I remember when Jesus' suffering became real to me. I was in college and it was a really hard thing to take in then.... I admire your sensitivity toward her in this.

Givinya De Elba said...

Oh Tracy. What a story.

When I was 8 I was bored one Saturday afternoon and watched an old movie about the crucifixion. I was totally horrified at the whole thing. And that this was done to Jesus - MY Jesus who I loved so much! The horror was overwhelming, and I had nightmares that night. Every Easter for many years I had a feeling of dread, and tried to avoid seeing or hearing details of what was done to my Lord, because I was so scarred by the movie I watched when I was 8.

I totally get where Bethany is coming from. Anything you feel you need to do so that she doesn't fear or avoid Easter in the future is fine by me. We need to approach it with joy, solemnity and thanksgiving. The fear certainly got in the way of that for me for a long time.

Julie said...

Tracy, can you get one of these for me ... and give it to Zach when he is MN? I would love to do it with the boys!!! :)

Betty W said...

I´m like Tracy. I couldn´t watch the movie from Mel Gibson (sorry forgot the title, almost 50 here...), because I saw the trailer and it was too gruesome for me. I think sometimes we don´t need to know all the horrid details.

Janean said...

Good post Tracy. I have found it very difficult to find even Easter books that are appropriate for young children. Images of the crucifixion can be very scary.

Each year on Good Friday, our pastor reads a description of the physical realities of crucifixion - what the body experiences, how death actually occurs, the pain, etc. While I certainly understand that part of understanding and appreciating what Christ has done for us is understanding the realities of crucifixion, I find this counterproductive. Like others who have posted, it just makes me not want to go to Good Friday services and I'm certainly not willing to bring the kids at their age. Besides, isn't the full extent of Christ's suffering really that he bore the sins of mankind more so than that he suffered on the cross? Many a criminal suffered on a cross, but they were not the Messiah. Christ suffered the sins of the world and that we can never understand, whether we understand the physical realities of crucifixion or not.

I think it's wonderful that you have a home where your children can express their discomfort and be heard. I think following her lead is absolutely appropriate. Focusing on the message of resurrection and new life for those of us in Christ is the core of the message of Easter. And that's Good News!

Janean said...

Ok, I can't stop thinking about this! A few more tidbits came to mind...

When I was young and would hear the Easter story, I remember thinking a few things that in hindsight I can see made me miss the whole point of the message. I'd think...

Well, lots of people die really horrible deaths, some worse than the pain of crucifixion I have to think, so why is the way Christ died so important?

What makes his suffering any worse than that of others? I almost felt like it was unfair how much attention there was on his suffering when plenty of people the world over suffer horrible deaths and no one talks about them every year.

When I'd hear that Christ suffered for me, I'd think, well, so would my Mom. And now that I'm a Mom, I know that I would too. Which one of us Mom's wouldn't suffer a horrible death if it meant our children could live and be spared unimaginable suffering? I'd wonder, what made Christ any different than anyone else who loved me? All these thoughts made him seem human to me.

The bottom line of my thoughts were, 'so what's the big deal?' In focusing on the suffering of the crucifixion, I think it's easy to miss THE BIG DEAL. I think kids in particular are prone to fixating on one part of the story that is hard to grasp. Certainly crucifixion is something that in this day and age, we can't quite fathom. So I think it's great that you're willing to let her shift her focus to another part of the story of Easter that is equally as captivating - that Christ's sacrificial gift to believers was ordained from the beginning of time and that Easter is the fulfillment of a promise of redemption, reconciliation and restoration.

Tracy P. said...

Ladies, ladies, ladies. Wow! Here I am trying to wrap up the Easter story with a nice bow, perfectly timed. I've almost been derailed by these stray and sort of random thoughts, but trusted that I moved quickly enough I could still get it all done. What's that about not enough tolerance for the ache? Hmm?

Your comments all have my mind spinning. Thanks so much to all of you. I've had much the same experience as Daily Bread (my dear real life friend) today, thinking about the "big deal", and the ways we cloud the truth of Christ's redemptive work for us by focusing on the means over and above the end.

I can't tell you how many little things--books, conversations, songs, nudgings in my heart have been bringing this home for me in recent weeks. I'm so glad God told me he wanted my attention. He had a lot he wanted to show me. I wish I could articulate it all. You have helped a lot, just by sharing your thoughts here. Thanks again, so very much!

Melissa B. said...

Just lovely! Have I told you that Ella Numera Dos is dragging her Old Mom to Palm Sunday services tomorrow? Talk about redemption!

Allegro ma non troppo said...

Yeah, it is difficult. I cry reading the crucifiction in the bible - I could never watch a movie about it! And how to even begin to explain it to kids? We do our best, hey.